So you’re finally ready for VoIP because its mind-blowing features are going to supercharge your small business.
(Not to mention let you say goodbye to fax machines forever. And, if you so choose, never actually listen to another voicemail again.)
When you’re this excited, it’s easy to get hasty and opt for whatever’s cheapest, especially when you’re on a tight budget. But before you choose a service provider, you need to make sure it’s the best fit for you and your business.
We know it’s not always easy to ask the right questions when you’re new to something. So we’ve taken the work out of it for you with a list of questions to ask VoIP providers so you can sign on the dotted line with confidence.
How fast can you get me started?
If a VoIP provider can’t get you going with VoIP within minutes, they’re doing it wrong. Many can even get you started instantly. You don’t need any special equipment to use VoIP. All you need is an internet connection and a cell phone (or even just a computer). So if they tell you it’ll take a while, move on.
How do you cater to the needs of small businesses?
There’s not many VoIP providers completely devoted to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The ones that are know exactly what you need: features that make your business leaner, meaner, more productive, and even look more established and/or bigger than it actually is. An excellent price point. And U.S.-based customer service that has your back, all day, every day, all year long. Zero in on a provider that has all that and you’ve found yourself a winner.
How secure is your service?
Because VoIP is powered by the internet, it faces risks traditional phone service does not. That’s why the service provider you choose needs to be fully secure, via encryption, replay attack protection, and message authentication and integrity. This suite of security features exists under an umbrella called Secure VoIP, which should always be the default setting of your service. While you may not totally understand the technology that secures VoIP, it’s crucial you inquire about it and that whatever provider you select measures up.
How reliable is your customer service?
This is a question you may not think to ask. But when it’s 3 a.m. Christmas Eve and you’re encountering a VoIP-related problem or question, you’ll wish you had. If your business relies on phone service—and that includes things like texting and faxing, both VoIP-enabled features—your provider’s customer service can make or break you. So look for customer support that’s based in the U.S. and available around the clock, all year long.
Is your system HIPAA compliant?
If you’re in healthcare, or any of your clients are, HIPAA-compliant VoIP service is essential. Without it, you’re not only putting patients’ electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) at risk, you’re putting your business at risk for massive fines—the kind that can destroy your bottom line and your reputation. So be absolutely certain the VoIP provider you choose is HIPAA compliant.
Do you have an app that transforms my smartphone into a VoIP extension?
It’s highly unlikely that you, or any of your employees, are chained to a desk. You’re probably on the go half the day. That’s why you need your smartphone to be your VoIP extension, with every feature at your fingertips. That’s where a VoIP app comes in. Your provider should have one for you to download immediately so you can leverage your new VoIP service wherever you are.
How can your service make my life, and the lives of my customers, easier?
A VoIP provider should be able to rattle off dozens of features designed to make everyone’s lives easier—yours, your employees, and your customers. For your business, you should have things like call forwarding so you never miss a call again, call handling so you can route them exactly where, and when, you want them to go, and voicemail-to-email. For your customers, there should be directories, queues, and excellent hold music while they wait. After all, VoIP is all about convenience. And if a provider doesn’t make convenience its number one priority, find one that does.